Know to the Greeks as Smyrna, and to the Turks as ‘Guzel Izmir’ (Beautiful Izmir), Turkey’s third-largest city sprawls around the head of the finest natural harbor on the Aegean coast. The city was founded in the 3rd millennium BC on the north shore of the bay, and reached her peak during the 10th century BC, when it was one of the most important cities in the Ionian Federation. The famous poet Homer was born Smyrna during this early period. After the Lydian conquest of the 6th century BC, the city lost its importance as the leading port in the Aegean Sea, but was refounded by Alexander the Great on the slopes of Mount Pagus, now KadifeKale. Following centuries, under the Greeks and Romans it became one of the principal port cities of Mediterranean trade.
When the Ottoman Turks took control in the 15th century, Izmir grew wealthy as a merchant city, handling Smyrna figs and Turkish tobacco from the farms of the hinterland, and allowing the establishments of European trading colonies. It prospered as a Levantine port until the close of the Greco-Turkish War in 1922, when it was almost completely destroyed by fire. Rebuilt around the site of Alexander’s hilltop site, it’s once again a bustling port and industrial city, but almost no trace remains of its former glory. These sights are the Highlights of modern Izmir: the Clock Tower, the tiny historical Konak Mosque, the Archeological Museum, the ancient Roman Agora, and the imposing medieval fortress of KadifeKale on the Mount Pagus.
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